Shembe Hymns

By Isaiah Shembe, Galilee Shembe

Edited by: Carol Muller

Contributions by: Bongani Mthethwa

Composed by Isaiah and Galilee Shembe between 1910 and 1940, Izihlabelelo zama Nazaretha - Shembe Hymns is one of the earliest known books in the isiZulu language. Drawing on the poetic traditions of Izibongo (Praises), Biblical Psalms, and local renditions of African American Spirituals, these texts speak to conditions of oppression and suffering, but also to the will of joy and hopefulness in such moments. The texts are brought to life with an accompanying CD of song, story, and interview excerpts. These include details about a seminal moment of change and controversy in the 1990s, when the organ was introduced by ethnomusicologist, Bongani Mthethwa, to accompany the Shembe hymnal repertory. The initiative gave birth to dozens of youth choirs who sang the hymns in a new style, and began to compose their own repertory about Shembe in a more 'gospel-inflected' musical version of their faith. The hymns were translated by the late Bongani Mthethwa, and are edited and introduced by Carol Muller, who also produced the accompanying CD.


288 pages

Publication Date: 11/1/2010
Format: Paper & CD
ISBN: 9781869141363